R+K Head of Earned Media Named to 20th Illinois Agricultural Leadership Class

Amy McEvoy iALF Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation
Amy McEvoy iALF Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation

R+K Head of Earned Media Named to 20th Illinois Agricultural Leadership Class

Amy McEvoy one of 24 agricultural leaders chosen for fellowship

Amy McEvoy, head of Earned Media at Rhea + Kaiser, was recently announced as a fellow for the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation (IALF) Class of 2022. McEvoy was selected to be part of the 20th class following a competitive application and interview process.

Beginning August 2020, McEvoy will participate in 15 seminars over 19 months to build the skills, knowledge and character to confront the most urgent and pressing issues of global and local food security and sustainability. The  program is designed to equip fellows with the skillset and experiences necessary to become policy and decision makers for the agricultural industry.

Fellows in the Class of 2022 represent a broad spectrum of food and agricultural interests and bring diverse agricultural experiences, from farming to multi-national agricultural business. For the first time in the history of the leadership program, the class will have more women than men; McEvoy is one of 14 women selected to be part of the 20th class.

“Though agriculture has always been a vital sector of the U.S. economy, the pandemic we’ve experienced since the start of 2020 has reinforced just how essential its workforce is to each of our lives,” said McEvoy. “Advocacy for the agriculture industry is critically important – now more than ever, and I’m honored and excited to help meet this such a vital need.”

Over the coming months, McEvoy will share updates and insights on the R+K blog Marketing to Farmers. To learn more about the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation, visit: agleadership.org.

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Ensuring the 3Rs of Media Through Paid Channels

Media Through Paid Channels
Media Through Paid Channels

Ensuring the 3Rs of Media Through Paid Channels

A few weeks ago, we talked about our agency restructure to focus on Paid, Owned and Earned media, with promise of more details on each individual discipline.

The purpose of this restructure was to ensure the customer — or, rather, the client’s customer — is always at the forefront of what we do and how we communicate.

Clients – and agencies – always have a vision of what will make an impact.  A highly visible placement, such as a digital takeover splash page or the back cover of a magazine, can be tempting. But we are not the customer. What is the right way to reach them? Just because there is the potential for a lot of eyeballs, doesn’t mean they’re the right ones.

Planning for Paid channels is just as important as the negotiating and buying process. Following are the three key tenets that lead our Paid team’s customer-first approach to media planning.

Right Person

First and foremost, Paid media needs to appear where it has the best chance to reach the target audience. But who are they? Before they embark on a media plan, the Paid team asks ”what data do we have to clearly locate the right audience for the message?” We prioritize these data-driven methods:

  • 1st Party Data: Data collected or owned by the client with which we’re working, including customer data, sales data, sales leads and prospects, competitive and market share data, website analytics, etc.  
  • 2nd Party Data: Another source’s 1st party data about your customers. This includes lists rented or purchased for marketing needs.
  • 3rd Party Data:  Information aggregated from multiple sources by an entity that doesn’t have a relationship with customers but that provides scale not available with 1st party data

Right Time

Once we’ve identified the current and prospective customers, our Paid team looks at when customers will be the most receptive to our clients’ messages. Today’s media is much more permission-based, asking customers to engage, and timing of this request is vital to success.

We ask a lot of questions to identify that ideal opportunity to engage:

  • Which media channels dominate the customer’s time? 
  • How do the customer’s media use habits shift during the day? The year?
  • What purchasing cycles are apparent in the customer’s behavior?
  • How are current economic conditions impacting customer expenditures?

Right Place

The third component that is vital to any media planning process is determining where customers will be. For example, a few decades ago, just about every noon news broadcast in rural areas included the daily farm report. That’s when farmers almost always came in for dinner. As farmers’ schedules became more erratic, noon farm reports went away as farmers were watching less. Some questions that help us determine the right place are:

  • Which channels does the customer use to stay informed? Which do they rely on to make decisions?
  • In the always-connected environment, is the target audience depending on mobile for personal or professional use?  
  • Are the media channels designed for this customer pursuing a digital-first publishing approach?
  • How does the customer’s use of multiple media channels (web sites, TV, print, social, etc.) contribute to fragmentation of the core audience? 

This is an overview of our approach to putting the customer first in Paid Media. Every customer-first campaign manifests itself in paid channels differently, based on how they are shaped by objectives and strategy. But when we put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and follow the data, we can always find the perfect intersection of our message with their needs.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts when we’ll talk more about our Owned and Earned teams. We’ll talk about how they are different from the conventional Creative and PR departments, especially when it comes to content development.

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Prepared Campaign: The GROWMARK System Response to COVID-19

Prepared Campaign - The GROWMARK System Response to COVID-19
Prepared Campaign - The GROWMARK System Response to COVID-19

Prepared Campaign: The GROWMARK System Response to COVID-19

According to a poll conducted by Farm Market iD and DTN/Progressive Farmer, nearly 90% of farmers fear the coronavirus will hurt their business and 84% have at least some concern that the virus will affect the health of family or friends. When asked about how farmers are changing their current behaviors, at least 50% had taken steps to reduce face-to-face meetings and be more cautious with money expenditures.

Like many other professional groups, farmers feel uneasy and they’re looking for help and reassurance from their advisors and suppliers during this pandemic. With so much uncertainty, they want to know what and who they can count on.

GROWMARK, Inc., a leading ag cooperative in the US and Canada, and its FS member cooperatives wanted to help ease these stresses and reassure customers, and the ag community, that they were fully prepared to navigate them through this uncertain time. Collaborating with GROWMARK,  R+K created the Prepared campaign to address customers biggest business concerns – staying connected with their local specialists and impact on product supplies. Anchored with the message ‘Prepared for Times Like These,’ the campaign sought to quickly convey the pro-active position of GROWMARK and FS companies’ capability to address the situation, keeping customers’ businesses running with minimal disruption.

Aligned with current communication initiatives, R+K took an integrated approach to ensure that the Prepared  message would reach customers and the ag community.

  • Landing pages, detailing the measures put in place to address customers concerns, were created for both corporate websites: com and growmark.com.
  • Creative assets were developed and produced for social, display, print and radio. Video and earned media efforts were also created in collaboration with the GROWMARK communications teams.
  • R+K media strategies targeted both the Midwest and Ontario geographies, running the Prepared campaign as the only message for the first week and a half in early April, in recognition of it’s timeliness and importance. Given extended shelter in place orders, the campaign continues as part of the messaging rotation through the end of May.

The Prepared campaign has resonated strongly throughout GROWMARK  and with FS member cooperatives. It will be woven through the upcoming 2020 Annual Meeting, and key stakeholders in all geographies have commented that these marketing efforts have been spot on for such an unprecedented time in our world.  

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3 ways word choices hinder effective communication

Words matter
Words matter

3 ways word choices hinder effective communication

Whether in a professional or social setting, effective communication demands we show respect for our audience while we inform, instruct or entertain them. To do that we must choose our words wisely. That means choosing words that do not confuse, alienate or annoy your audience. Yet every day, we hear or see people losing their audience because they made poor word choices in one or all of the following ways.

1. Using big words when small ones will do. 

(The fancy-word people call that altiloquence.) Proposals, web content and presentations are often riddled with the verb utilize when we mean use. Who decided to use such a passive term as utilize when use is so much shorter and active? Another example is “we will endeavor to…” How about “we will try to…”? It’s simpler, clearer and certainly less pretentious.

This post on socialtriggers.com explains why big words make you look stupid. Before you think it’s outdated, the same subject came up on thehrdigest.com in 2018: How to Sound Smart Without Using Fancy Pants Words. There are dozens more out there. And these aren’t just opinion. Several of them reference research conducted at Princeton University, the results of which were published with what is, hopefully, an intentionally ironic title, “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly.”

As communicators, we all like to drop an occasional vocabulary grenade in a conversation, but we should be aware we’re doing it and anticipate getting busted.

Using big, fancy words can torpedo a conversation because the word is too big, not quite the right word or a malapropism. How often do we say dialect when we mean accent? Or how about that time the team’s effort was described as duplicitous when she meant to say duplicative? Redundant would have sufficed.

2. Over-using jargon.

Technical terms are accepted and expected when talking in technical circles, and you know what you’re talking about. Jargon is not acceptable, ever. It is at best a conversational crutch, and most likely subterfuge for incompetence.

This problem is not exclusive to the marketing industry. Jargon is rampant in business, academia, social settings and, yes, coffee shops. Jargon, while enabling the speaker to feel more confident, actually telegraphs a shallow knowledge. Classic example: the barista giving the elderly gentleman the stink-eye when he orders a large coffee instead of a venti black coffee with room.

3. Abusing acronyms.

You may think you are showing insider knowledge when you liberally sprinkle acronyms in your presentation. But whether you’ve first defined them or not, using acronyms, just like big words, disrupts your audience’s attention. Listeners stop listening as they try to remember or discreetly Google what the acronym stands for.

In fact, more than a decade ago, the AP Style Guide started telling us only to use acronyms that are commonly understood, such as AP, DNA, FBI, UFO or USDA. Even then, use them sparingly. Some lesser known acronyms may be acceptable when communicating within a specific profession, however. For example, when communicating with veterinarians, you won’t need to spell out acronyms like AVMA, FIV, PRRS or TID.

The point is this: We’re all guilty of these mistakes at times, but you have the power to stop letting your word choice get in the way of effectively connecting and communicating with your audience. The consequences of over-using big words, jargon and acronyms can be avoided with greater respect for your audience and more intentional curation of your words.

Words matter. Choose them wisely. Effective communications depend on it.

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Pet Panel Survey Series: Pet Insurance

Insights from pet parent panel
Insights from pet parent panel

Pet Panel Survey Series: Pet Insurance

Why pet parents buy in… and why they don’t

Welcome back to our pet panel series of industry reflections fueled by proprietary research conducted by Rhea + Kaiser. Our intent is to assess and validate a variety of pet care trends and hypotheses, and to formulate marketing strategies within the category. Our previous post explored factors that influence purchases of pet supplements. In the following post, we present new data on how pet parents perceive pet health insurance and what this means for pet insurance providers and other pet care-related companies.

Over the past few years, pet health insurance has risen in popularity. In fact, 2.43 million pets were insured in North America at the end of 2019, an increase of 17.1% over the previous year, according to the 2019-2020 American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owners Survey. Not only can a pet health insurance policy protect against high medical fees, but it provides peace of mind to pet parents who know their pets are protected in the event of a surprise accident or illness.

Perceptions of pet insurance

According to our most recent survey, over 55% of pet parents either currently have or are considering pet health insurance (18% currently have, 8.3 % are planning to buy, and 28.6% are considering purchase).

Among pet parents who do have pet insurance, reasons for buying fall into three buckets:

  • Helps defray the cost of veterinary expenses (routine or emergency)
  • Provides peace of mind in knowing their pets are protected
  • Humanizes pet (i.e. “I have it, so they should too)

What about the remaining 45.1%?

Many of the respondents who do not have pet insurance do not believe they can justify the expense or do not believe they will see a return on the investment. Other responses, such as “my pets are too healthy” and “it doesn’t make sense for my pet’s lifestyle” were more surprising.

Pet insurance as an employee benefit

Though nearly half of pet parents were not interested in purchasing pet health insurance, nearly three quarters were interested in taking advantage of employer-sponsored pet insurance, if offered.

When asked about the appeal of pet-related employee benefits, pet health insurance ranked third among 10 possibilities, with “discounts on pet supplies” and “reimbursement for pet boarding during work travel” ranked first and second, respectively. 

These findings make us wonder: is there an opportunity for pet care retail giants like PetSmart, Petco or Pet Valu to enter employee benefits packages? Or could it be a strategy for mid-sized and/or regional retailers to expand their footprint? We also posit that employee discount packages may be a growth strategy for veterinary clinic chains to pursue in 2021, particularly as the economic impact of COVID-19 may result in less frequent visits to the vet, as we saw with the Great Recession.

Awareness of pet insurance providers

When asked about pet insurance providers, aided awareness of individual brands was slightly higher than we anticipated, given that fewer than one fifth of pet parents carry health insurance for their pets.

Of the nine brands we listed in our survey, average awareness was 15.8 percent, with a range of 4.5 to 39.1 percent. Fortune Business Insights reports that Nationwide is the leading pet insurance provider in the United States. However, in our survey, ASPCA had the highest awareness levels and twice as many customers than as Nationwide.

What does this mean for pet insurance providers?

As more brands enter the pet insurance space, we expect to see more fragmentation in brand awareness and consideration. So, how does a brand stand out? With more than one-third of R+K Pet Parent participants planning or considering pet health insurance, we suspect there is an opportunity for companies to educate pet parents about what pet insurance is and how it can benefit their pet.

Some pet parents confuse pet health insurance with pet life insurance. One respondent stated, “Insurance is to ensure the surviving partner is provided for financially. My pet does not earn money.” Amid all the proliferating brands and providers, brands can add value by providing pet parents resources to make informed decisions about pet insurance.

There is also an opportunity for pet insurance providers to appeal to employers to offer pet insurance benefits that leave more money in their employees’ wallets.

At Rhea + Kaiser, we’ve helped brands differentiate themselves and command significant market share in highly crowded categories from flea & tick products to joint-health supplements to vet-prescribed NSAIDs.

Learn more about our pet care expertise here, and follow us on social media to stay up to date as we continue to share insights, successes and tips:

R+K on Facebook
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R+K on Instagram

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If you have topics you would like to explore with our Pet Parent panel or would like to discuss marketing in the companion pet space, please contact Gino Tomaro, Business Development Director.

For more information about our approach to marketing in the pet care industry, download our R+K Pet Care Credentials.

What we’ve learned in six weeks of remote work

working from home 371
working from home 557

What we’ve learned in six weeks of remote work

Working from home during the pandemic has been an adjustment for many, to put it mildly. As our longest-tenured remote employee respected by clients and colleagues alike, Elizabeth Smith recirculated some work-from-home advice she blogged about several years ago. Her recommendations still ring true and have helped many of her R+K colleagues through the transition from traditional agency environment to the home office.

Elizabeth has always emphasized the importance of treating remote work like you’re going to the office. She shared these key pieces of advice:

  1. Treat going to work like going to work. Get up early. Shower. Get dressed. Make a second pot of coffee and walk into your office and stay there.
  2. Work harder. She was one of the first at R+K to work off-site full time and felt the pressure to make it work. “I often felt like I was working in a fishbowl during those early years,” she says. “But those experiences set the stage for being able to do this long-term.”
  3. Stay Connected. Make the extra phone calls to stay connected to your colleagues when you’re not walking the halls together. Build connections and nurture relationships.

A few weeks into our new world, we asked around at the office – well, on some video chats and in some Teams posts – what our people thought of Elizabeth’s advice and what they find most surprising about working from home. Of course, Elizabeth’s advice was unanimously spot on. On their new work environment, many colleagues had shared perspective.

Changed Mindset

Several people noted they have a new respect for working from home full time. They’ll have a different perspective when in the office, such as calling more and emailing less with off-site employees. They’re confident they’ll run meetings differently when at least one participant is offsite.

Technology Transformation

Video calls were a big topic of conversation among our staff. While we’ve had the capabilities since laptops started coming with built-in cameras, it’s a tool our organization just didn’t fully use. Maybe there were firewall issues with third parties. Some people avoided having to see themselves on camera and others didn’t exactly want other people to see their office or desk.

With the technology we’re finding in Teams or Zoom, it’s easy enough to blur and even change your background. A lot of companies have revised firewalls to make video calls easier. And most people have learned to ignore their self-video in the corner of the call screen.

Fluidity in Communication

Prior to the state of today’s world, a common misperception across all businesses was that working from home jeopardized communication – in quality and frequency. In fact, whether it’s the video calls mentioned above or simply increased frequency of communication, our colleagues have actually noticed an improvement communication. It’s not exclusive to project work and one-on-on conversations, either. There are even increased efforts to communicate agency-wide to ensure connectivity. Literally and figuratively.

While everyone is eager to return to normal, whatever that may be, we’re all confident that some improved habits will come from this process.

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Three reasons we send R+K employees to industry events

Industry Events - Commodity Classic
Industry Events - Commodity Classic

Three reasons we send R+K employees to industry events

Commodity Classic is one of the major agriculture tradeshows of the year, which is why four R+Kers made their way to San Antonio for the show this week. As they walk the show floor and have conversations with exhibitors and attendees, they’ll be gathering insights and observations to bring back to the agency.  

At R+K, we are Pathfinders who help our clients find the best route to achieve their business goals. Attending trade shows like Commodity Classic, conferences and other industry events is a vital part of pathfinding.

Here are three ways conferences, trade shows and events help us be better Pathfinders:

Audience intel

We believe in a customer-first approach to marketing, so R+K Pathfinders are obsessed with understanding our clients’ target audiences. If you walk the halls of R+K, you’re bound to overhear quantitative discussions about data and customer insights. However, we also know that the qualitative side of our exploration – really listening to discussions, questions and concerns from our clients’ customers – gives us a deeper understanding of the target audience.

Industry events bring together a variety of customer perspectives, opinions and experiences all in once place. It’s the perfect opportunity to really listen and gain a deeper understanding of what resonates with our clients’ customers. We take our learnings and apply that filter to the data to clearly define the customer need, mindset and journey.

Trend watching

We may not have a crystal ball, but hearing from thought leaders, researchers, product managers and other experts like those at Commodity Classic helps us keep an eye on the horizon and prepare for what could come next. Things change fast both in marketing and in our clients’ business. If you don’t stay up to date, you will quickly fall behind. Understanding what the future holds allows us to help our clients avoid any obstacles and set achievable goals. 

Networking

It’s a small world, especially within specific verticals. At R+K we value partnerships with our current and potential clients, vendors, organizations and other agencies. We engage with outside partners every day to create great work for our clients. Those partnerships always start with networking, and conferences and events are a great way to build new relationships. Plus, attendees at industry events are in the mindset to discover new resources and meet new people. We don’t have to rely on a potential partner’s website to know how they think – we get to hear it from them firsthand. 

When employees return from an industry event, we always ask them to sum up their key takeaways to share with the rest of the agency, so everyone benefits. As we continue our commitment to industry events and customer insights in 2020, be sure to stop and introduce yourself to an R+K Pathfinder and ask them what they’ve learned. Stay tuned for a post recapping our key takeaways from Commodity Classic!

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Marketing Insights from Veterinary Meeting & Expo (VMX)

Marketing Insights from Veterinary Meeting & Expo (VMX)
Marketing Insights from Veterinary Meeting & Expo (VMX)

Marketing Insights from Veterinary Meeting & Expo (VMX)

Recently Rhea + Kaiser Pathfinders attended Veterinary Meeting & Expo (VMX) 2020 in Orlando, along with more than 17,000 veterinary professionals, pet parents and pet brand exhibitors. We talked with attendees and exhibitors about the latest trends, brand challenges and marketing opportunities in the pet space. These were our four key observations:

Pet humanization

Pet brands continue to evolve product and service offerings at all levels to meet the demands of their target audience, pet parents. The products have gone beyond clothing, car seats, bed stairs and custom strollers to include pet insurance (and not just individual pet insurance – employer-offered insurance benefits for pets is a major trend right now), after-life planning and even dating/social apps for pets.

Retail veterinary chaining

There is a big push toward pet hospital facilities where individual veterinarians are employed, or can rent space, and practice in a large hospital setting. Our team continues to investigate if the perception of the convenience of a big hospital will win out over the perceived benefit of small vet personalization and quality of care.  

Product/service diversification

Many large pet brands are expanding beyond medicines and supplements to become complete pet health providers. We see these companies adding products and services such as pet prosthetics, medical devices, treats, monitoring devices and more.

Focus on pet owner quality of life

Many products and services being developed are designed to help improve the pet owner’s quality of life. For example, there are products to track and capture your pet’s activity during your workday, preventative medical monitoring devices, medicine for sleep and activity improvement, and more.

Rhea + Kaiser is thrilled to be a marketing communications agency operating in the pet space. We take the information we learn at events to our Pet Parent Panel for validation and use it to develop marketing opportunities with industry partners.

Follow us on social media to stay up to date as we continue to share insights, successes and tips:

R+K on Facebook
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R+K on Instagram

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Gino Tomaro leads business development at Rhea & Kaiser and would love to talk with you about marketing opportunities for your pet brand.

For more information about our approach to marketing in the pet care industry, download our R+K Pet Care Credentials.

POE – Agency Structure that Puts the Customer First

POE agency structure
POE agency structure

POE: Agency Structure that Puts the Customer First

It’s pretty safe to say that clients want to provide their customers with the most compelling brand experience — for less money and in less time. Especially in a world where efficiency is valued. So why do so many agencies lead with a splashy, expensive Big Idea that excites clients but doesn’t necessarily resonate with customers?

We don’t know, either. That’s why we decided to flip agency conventions on their head and completely move away from the traditional agency structure.

We walked away from departments you’ll find in a typical agency, like advertising, PR, creative and digital. Today, you will see our departments aligned with how we think about target audiences and how they consume information – by Paid, Owned and Earned channels (P-O-E).

This structure helps us live the belief that customers come first. It reflects the convergence of paid, owned and earned media and the way they work together. By changing our structure and departments to align with how we approach planning, it changes the mindsets of clients and agency alike. Importantly, we aren’t just talking about integration and Paid-Owned-Earned media; we’re living it.

By living P-O-E in our structure, we’re able to focus on what customers want to know, not just what clients want their customers to know. And, just as meaningful, how customers want to receive the information.

A decade ago, planning usually consisted of a Big Idea. Tactical development sometimes felt forced to fit with the Big Idea or disjointed. Ironically, this often put the customer in a secondary position. Agencies focused on what clients wanted to say and what would impress clients. And what impresses clients doesn’t always impress their customers. The P-O-E structure helps us escape that trap.

Once we know a client’s business objective, we dive into the customer experience and journey. We look at how they consume media and where they get information. Then we develop tactics that guide customers along the journey toward meeting their objectives. This ensures the plans we develop for clients are outcome-oriented, rather than getting caught up in an idea that seems cool in the office but doesn’t resonate with customers.

Of course, we still pride ourselves in creativity and hustle and teamwork. But the Paid-Owned-Earned structure allows us to tailor strategic marketing communications plans for every situation, putting our best foot forward for clients of any size .

After all, the biggest creative idea doesn’t matter if it doesn’t appear where the customers are.

Stay tuned…  In coming weeks, we’ll introduce you to the Planning & Integration group, take a deeper dive into each of the components of Paid, Owned and Earned channels and explore how strategy fits into the mix.

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Farmers use of social media

Farmers use of social media
Farmers use of social media

Farmers use of social media

The digital world has changed how we connect with farmers

These days it seems as though the options in the digital landscape are endless. Whether the goal is to make a purchase, obtain information or simply communicate with other industry folks, the path to take can be more sensory overload than opportunity and overwhelming at best. Is there any value to this social media connectivity and a way to optimize it? Furthermore, can we in ag still find a reason to encourage it?

The answer is a resounding yes, even if it takes some arm-twisting.

In 2016 on our Marketing to Farmers blog, we published Understanding how farmers use social media can improve your marketing, and those points have long resonated with our audience. Social media isn’t going anywhere and, if anything, has only increased in importance as a marketing tool and communications medium. What has frequently been viewed as an app or gadget for younger generations is now actively used by all generations in all industries. Peek at Twitter and you will notice how it is the primary means of chatter for every major news outlet, political figure and brand name in industry. Similarly, Instagram uses photography to show off advertising the latest products, corporate headshots and everything in between. Likewise, Instagram, which wasn’t included in our data last time, has now outpaced other social media channels on use. The source itself notes that up to 80 percent of its users are engaged with businesses on the platform. And then there are the old standbys, YouTube and Facebook, still strong in the social media landscape and actively pursued by advertisers and newcomers alike.

Creating Virtual Social Communities

Though these platforms aren’t new, what they all have in common is the ability for farmers to participate in Virtual Social Communities (VSC). VSCs provide for an environment where the farmer can easily and interactively communicate with a brand through likes, follows, comments and shares of the brand’s content. This welcomes them into the brand’s community and establishes a level of trust, as well as opens a dialogue and invites a relationship, thereby initiating the customer journey. It also offers a climate of camaraderie for those participants who are engaged with the brand.

These communities exist throughout all of social media, however one example, AgFuse, demonstrates the VSC model as a free tool that connects over 4,300 farmers, agribusiness professionals and organizations, with the goal to network, educate, promote products and gain valuable resources. Like Facebook but specifically for ag, this is the optimal way to both introduce and integrate within the intended community.

A Look at the Data

While fresh blood like AgFuse are bringing these VSCs directly to the farmers, the platforms most popular with farmers have varied little since we last checked the stats. Reflecting on the data we presented in our previous post and comparing it to the most current data provided by our source, Meredith Agrimedia’s Successful Farming, the below example shows that, with relatively minor fluctuation, YouTube is still leading the charge (most current data provided from 2017). Farmers continue to use YouTube primarily for its instructional purposes.

digital changes social platform usage

A June 2019 Pew Research Social Media Fact Sheet revealed some rural social stats.

% of Rural U.S. adults who use each social media platform:

  • Facebook – 66%
  • Instagram – 21%
  • LinkedIn – 10%

This chart from the same Pew study shows the growth over time.

Growth of social use

We also know that even though social media is used less than traditional media, there are a variety of reasons that farmers use it. Below shows the most common reasons why farmers use social media, although worth noting is that a specific social media platform is not indicated.

VSCs are the portal for farmers connecting with other farmers, with Extension educators to answer questions and with brand reps to learn about products and get support, in addition to awareness about promotions, and these other key purposes for seeking out networks attached to brands. It remains to be seen how the current platforms will evolve with farmers and if new technologies will develop.

We encourage you to consider how your platforms support your brands and the ways in which VSCs are developed.

  • Do farmers actively participate in the online conversations that occur?
  • Does there exist the essence of an online community between the brand, farmers and your agribusiness counterparts?
  • Do you feel as though engagement is created virtually and can transition to reality?

Because that is the success of engagement, the VSC and goal of the customer journey.

A version of this article first appeared in our Marketing to Farmers blog.

Marketing to Farmers blog

Diane Martin and Jeff Walter grew up around farming—in their professional and personal lives. Each week, they tap into their vast experience and provide marketing insights to brands seeking strong connections with farmers. Go to site »

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